This post is about how to sort your UFO’s- but let me tell you a little about the inspiration… This past Sunday, it was 72 degrees- it’s February and I live in NJ, folks! Crazy! We went for a long walk at the park with Alfie, and then treated ourselves to ice cream afterwards.
It’s feeling like Spring (though I’m sure that will only last another day or 2… then we’ll most likely get a seasonable arctic blast.) But while it’s warm and the sun is shining, it’s certainly putting me in a good mood. A SPRING mood. What does that mean? Lately, it makes me feel like doing some purging around the house. So much stuff to get rid of!
My oldest daughter has a new job starting in a few weeks, and while she’s in between jobs, she’s been coming over to help me. The first assignment I gave her was cleaning up my fabric room. While I love this room and it’s perfect for doing photography, I had let it get wayyyyyyyy out of control. Like, I spent the last year just throwing stuff in there (literally) and then shutting the door so that I didn’t have to look at it. Daughter spent a full day getting it under control, sorting and organizing. I love the room again! Alfie loves it too… I couldn’t find him this morning, so I went upstairs to investigate and found him napping in a basket of newly-organized fabric remnants:
While we were going through the dresser drawers, I came across a UFO (UnFinished Object) that I’d forgotten about- a small quilt which was almost done except that it needed ONE border sewn on. And that one border was already pinned on! Seriously- I had left it unfinished with just ONE seam left to do. Whaaaaaat? What is wrong with me, I asked myself- why could I NOT just finish the thing? Why was it shoved in a drawer and abandoned for a few years? And then I remembered the details of the project. A guild had asked me to work up a special project to teach them at a workshop. I did so, and I was almost done the sample, when they cancelled. I was left feeling aggravated that I’d wasted my time on this. I didn’t even LIKE the project! So, I had stashed it away where I didn’t have to see it, and didn’t have to be reminded of the aggravation it had caused me.
So, let’s talk about unfinished objects and projects and other “stuff” in our lives that are just hanging around. Have you heard the analogy about the river and the reservoir? Water flows in and out of the river- and rivers are teeming with life, and they sustain life for the creatures that live around them. Reservoirs, however, are still- no water flows out, and therefore no fresh water flows in. Reservoirs tend to be stagnant. The lesson is that you must be willing to have things flow out of your life in order to allow fresh new things to flow in. The things that flow out can be of 2 types- things that are old and useless, but also things that are good which can be passed on to someone else. Make sense? You can see where I’m going with this- Our UFO’s can be a symbol and symptom of how we live our lives.
I’m going to encourage you to go through your pile of UFO’s and be really honest with yourself. Ask yourself the following questions:
- –Do I still love this?
- –Am I willing to put in the time and energy it will require to get it done?
- –Am I willing to forego starting something new until I finish this?
- –Will it give me joy to work on this project again, or will it just feel like drudgery? Will I be unhappy or frustrated while I work on it, just trying to “get it done?”
- –Does it make sense to work on this? (For example, if it was a baby quilt, but said baby has just graduated from middle school, is it still appropriate for that recipient? Or is there someone else who will love it or who can use it if I complete it??)
- –Can I honestly say that I will work on this in the next 6 to 12 months and commit to getting it done- or am I just lying/kidding/making excuses to myself?????
Some of the reasons that you might be holding onto some UFO’s, even though you’ll probably never finish them, could be:
- –I really liked it when I started it, but now my tastes/decor have changed.
- –The fabric cost so much money.
- –I’m not happy with my workmanship, but my work is much better now, and maybe I can “fix” it.
- –The reason/event that I had started it for has now long past (did the couple who were the intended recipients of that fabulous Wedding Ring quilt just celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary???) Now I’m aggravated with myself for letting it go unfinished, so I want to “prove” to myself that I can get it done.
- –I still think/hope I’ll finish it someday. Or pass the unfinished quilt top down to my children/grandchildren- because even though I didn’t want to finish it, I’m sure that they will want to!!!!!
- –What in the world would I do with this project if I don’t finish it? I can’t bear to just throw it in the trash.
- –Can you think of some other reasons???
Do you feel like those unfinished projects are just hanging over your head, keeping you in a state of limbo, unable to move forward?? I have a project that is really hanging over me… every time I see it or think about it, I get anxious. It’s a wedding quilt that I started for my daughter over 5 years ago. She has been married for 4 1/2 years. Sometimes, she would ask about the quilt, and I would cringe and not know what to say!!! Here’s what happened- I designed this gorgeous quilt just for her and my son-in-law. The design was to be a surprise and I designed intricate embroidery and applique blocks that reflected them and the things that they love. I completed many of the blocks, including the embroidery…. And THEN I discovered that the embroidery thread had run on a few of the blocks. So, I didn’t work on it anymore because I felt STUCK- do I finish it and tell her to NEVER wash it or get it wet? Should I start over? Throw it away??? So, last week I was honest with her and told her exactly what had happened and why I hadn’t worked on it in such a long time. We decided that some time soon, we would sit down together and go through the basket of blocks, and decide what to do with them.
Now, dear ones, I am going to give you permission to let some of these things go! Life changes and you can’t make room for new good stuff (I’m speaking both literally and metaphorically here) if you are “plugged up” with old stuff. Remember that analogy above about the river and reservoir. Another saying that helps me keep my priorities about “my stuff” is this: “Things serve us, we do not serve things.” If you feel like you are serving a thing instead of the other way around, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s going on.
Now go through your UFO pile, and sort the projects into the following categories:
- 1) Yes, I love this, and I can’t wait to work on it again. I can definitely commit to finishing this in the next 6-12 months.
- 2) Not sure- I kind of like it, and/or I know someone who will love this finished project once it’s done (this could be for a gift to someone you know, or a charity quilt to donate.)
- 3) I’ll never finish this, but someone else might. It’s in pretty good shape, and it’s definitely salvageable.
- 4) When I am totally honest with myself, I know that this is just not good. It’s not worth saving, either by me or someone else. (Due to poor workmanship, damage, it has no practical use, etc. If you used fabric, or did applique, which says Happy New Year 2002- you have my permission to throw it away!)
The answer about numbers 1 and 4 are easy- keep what you love, and throw away what is not salvageable. If you can’t bear to throw things away, just put the things in a bag, seal it up, and ask someone else to do the dirty work of putting it in the trash for you. Leave the house if you need to. Or, if you’re afraid that you’ll go raid the trash can and drag the stuff back in later, ask them to drive the bag somewhere else to dispose of it. I know this sounds silly- but we can become emotionally attached to stuff (especially stuff that we’ve made- it represents our time and energy and creativity.) Sometimes, you just need help with this final step. But I guarantee that afterwards you will feel FREE and energized and really excited to work on those projects that you LOVE. Because life is too short to spend precious time working on stuff that you don’t love, right???
OK- get to work on that assignment! In my next post, I’ll give you a few ideas about what to do with the stuff that falls into categories 2 and 3.